DeAngelo Halls learning curve has been a steep one as he adjusts to playing nickel cornerback. Six days into training camp, though, the Redskins veteran said hes finding a comfort zone after spending the first nine seasons of his NFL career playing on the outside.More than anything, though, Hall said hes looking forward to next Thursdays preseason opener in Buffalo so he can cover a receiver not named Santana Moss.Santana has gotten me a couple of times, said Hall with a chuckle. Ive gotten him a couple of times. Im just excited about getting into some real games, going against other guys and seeing how I can mix it up against them.As the nickel corner, Halls list of responsibilities will grow. Not only will be charged with covering the slot receiver, hell also be in position to make more tackles and blitz.But hell still get to utilize his greatest skill: making plays on the ball.I always make this statement: Im probably not a great corner, but I feel like Im a great football player, Hall said. To be a nickel, you have to be a complete football player. You have to tackle, you have to be able to pick off passes, you have to be able to read routes and you have to know what the linebacker does.Hall will be replacing Kevin Barnes, who struggled in slot coverage last season. Cedric Griffin, meantime, is expected to take over for Hall as the outside corner opposite Josh Wilson.For the Redskins to excel in pass defense, theyll need Hall to make a seamless transition to a new position in a revamped secondary the 28-year-old jokingly referred to as full of misfits.In addition to Halls position switch, first-year secondary coach Raheem Morris also will be tasked with integrating two new safeties after the team released Oshiomogho Atogwe and let LaRon Landry walk in free agency. The unit ranked 21st in the league in opposition yards per pass attempt (7.5) last season.Hall said hes also aiming to have a bounce back season individually. After making his third Pro Bowl in 2010, Hall saw his interception total drop from six to three last season.Do I want to make more plays? Yeah, Hall said. The more plays anybody makes, the more games we win. Did I drop plays last year or did I not make plays I should have made? Yeah, I did. I felt like the opportunities were there but I just didnt cash in on them.
Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 26, 18 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.
It’s been 145 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 107 days.
—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 18
—Training camp starts (7/27) 62
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 76
A top 10 team? Or No. 22?
Former Cowboys VP and current SiriusXM commentator and NFL.com writer Gill Brandt did a list of his top 10 NFL teams in terms of talent. At the top of the list was the consensus pick for the best team in the league, the New England Patriots. Also on the list were some of the regulars on lists like this one—the Steelers, Falcons, Cowboys, etc.
But the team at No. 10 on the list was something of a surprise. Since it’s being mentioned here you’ve probably figured out that it’s the Washington Redskins.
Brandt points out that they have a significant number of quality players in what should be the prime seasons of their careers, which he says, “portends good things”.
Judging talent is always subjective, especially when you don’t know how new players who arrived as free agents or draft picks will fit in. But good players are good players. Do the Redskins really have enough of them to stack up as a top-10 team?
One way to gauge this is to try to figure out how many of a team’s players could start for at least half of the other teams in the NFL. That is subjective but that’s what we do here so here we go.
On the offensive line, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses could start for most teams. Of the skill players, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, and Jamison Crowder are on the list.
Defense is a little trickier since not all the players in the front seven would be scheme fits everywhere. But I think it’s safe to say that most teams could find some way to utilize Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, and Zach Brown as starters. Josh Norman is probably the only member of the secondary who would qualify here although with as weak as the safety position is around the league you could make a case for D.J. Swearinger.
Not counting the safety, that makes a total of 10 who start for at least 16 teams, just less than half of the starters. There are some who could make it there is they take some steps towards reaching their potential. Brandy mentions Josh Doctson and Preston Smith. I would add Spencer Long and, if healthy, Junior Galette.
On the other side of the coin, where are the Redskins clearly below average? Left guard is the weak spot on the O-line. While the running backs aren’t awful I’m not sure many teams would trade their group for Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson. Despite the addition of Allen, the D-line remains suspect.
It is interesting to note that the Redskins are one of three NFC East teams on Brandy’s list; the Cowboys are fifth and the Giants are sixth.
You can look at the strong and weak points of the Redskins and write almost any 2017 storyline you want to. Peter King of The MMQB has his doubts about Pryor and Doctson being able to adequately compensate for the free agency losses of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson and his power ranking have Washington at 22nd.
Two respected analysts, two very different views of how the Redskins stack up in 2017. We have a little more than 100 days before we start to find out who’s right.
Tandler on Twitter
@Swkofie I still bet no, but the chances seem better than they ever have been.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) May 25, 2017
In case you missed it
- Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense
- Redskins’ Cousins excited to work with ex-QB Pryor
- Josh Doctson ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"
- Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension
- Does bigger mean better? 3 takeaways from OTAs
- Norman dogs 'fake tough' Dez and OBJ, predicts suspensions
- Norman takes shot at Goodell, NFL rules
Josh Norman is great talker. He almost always has something provocative to say, and his Bleacher Report interview published Thursday didn't buck the trend.
Norman's sneering at NFC East receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant drew immediate, look-what-he-just-said attention.
But let's not gloss over the larger theme of this interview: Norman thinks the NFL is headed down the wrong path. The timid path.
In his five seasons, the Redskins corner has been on the receiving end of flags and fines for taunting and excess contact. And yet he told Bleacher Report that he's never once met commissioner Roger Goodell.
Asked how he would handle the commissioner job differently, Norman started with interpersonal basics.
"First, I would change how I handle people. For one, you don't show up anywhere. You don't show up where the players show up. So how are you going to know what they want?"
"If this is the guy who is your commissioner, who makes all these rules, wouldn't you think you'd want to see him other than when you get in trouble?" he continued. "Why would I see you if I'm in trouble—what's the point? Why wouldn't I see you before then so you can eliminate that?"
MORE REDSKINS: Scouting each opponent on the Redskins' 2017 schedule
But Norman's criticism morphed from finding fault with Goodell to dissatisfaction with the overall evolution of the league.
You're going to recognize this argument. It starts with defensive players lamenting how NFL rules have moved to limit contact, turning guys timid.
"Now you have to stop and think about it before you actually hit somebody or you're going to get fined," Norman said. "But where's the offense getting fined?"
Then comes the nostalgia for the old days when football players were tough, as opposed to today, when everyone is Mary's little lamb.
"Playing the way people used to play it in the old days. Like Mike Haynes. Those kinds of guys. Lester Hayes. People who played it with violence and ruthlessness," Norman said when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave. "Lockjaw. No pussyfooting around. No inching off. None of that softness."
It's that soft mindset of the modern world that's diluting football, and the young guys are part of the problem.
"We have too many soft guys, too many guys coming up saying, 'I don't know....' Playing their little off, soft technique," he complained. "That's how the soft mind-set of this world has us thinking now."
This line of reasoning should be very familiar so far, but most that espouse it stop short of saying what they're going to do about it.
"You can't touch guys after five yards. ... Screw that! Hands on. Call it if you call it. So what. You're going to have to call it all game."
"I want him to see me with my hands in his face. That's what I want you to see. In their chest, their breast plate, so they cough up air. They skip a beat in their heart kind of thing," Norman said.
So ... expect some rule-stretching this season? Perhaps against NFC East opponents?
"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year," he warned. "There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't."
"I'm letting all hell break loose."
Well, then. Noted. We'll let the league – and the Redskins – decide how to feel about this plan.
MORE REDSKINS: Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense